Q. The board of our association is revising the rules, none of which have yet gone into effect. For decades owners have been allowed to add a washer and dryer to their unit. The new rules will prohibit the installation of washing machines. I want to remodel my unit and intend to install laundry equipment.
Our current bylaws state: "Any owner may make alterations, additions and improvements within his unit without the prior written approval of the board." Can the board legitimately prohibit an owner from installing laundry equipment in their unit?
A. The waste lines of many buildings, particularly mid-or high-rise buildings, lack the capacity to handle laundry washing machines and the suds they produce. The use of this equipment can cause damaging backups in lower level units. Further, the covenants of associations often include language that prohibits an owner from overloading the plumbing and/or electrical systems of the building.
Supported by the opinion of an engineer regarding the impact on the building's plumbing and/or electrical systems, there are circumstances where an association's rules can prohibit laundry equipment.
The language in the association's bylaws to which you refer does not prevent the board from taking its action here. That is, the installation of laundry equipment requires the attachment to the building's pipes, so it is not just an alteration of a unit.
Whether laundry equipment existing at the time the rule change is adopted will be "grandfathered," or allowed to remain and for how long, may be something the board can consider.
Q. I know the procedure required to remove a director from the board. However, can the board of our condominium keep a person on the board, but remove him or her as an officer (i.e., president, secretary, treasurer)? If so, what is the process to remove a director from an officer position only?
A. In general, a person can be removed as an officer and remain on the board. The Condominium Property Act does not proscribe a procedure to remove an officer from the board. Rather, this is typically set forth in an association's bylaws.
In the absence of a provision in the bylaws, any officer may be removed by the board of directors. It would not require a vote of the owners as is required to remove a person from the board. This is set forth in Section 108.55 of the Illinois General Not for Profit Corporation Act. That law is applicable to all Illinois condominiums, whether or not the association is incorporated. Of course, the action to remove an officer from their position must be conducted by a vote of the board at an open portion of a board meeting.
Q. We own a condominium unit in an association and the amenities include a swimming pool. The pool is costly to maintain, especially the insurance, and only a small percentage of the owners use the pool. As a result, the board closed the pool last season, and the word is that the board is considering a permanent closure of the pool. Can the association eliminate an amenity like the swimming pool without a vote of the owners?
A. The board of managers of a condominium is responsible for the maintenance, repair, replacement and improvement of the common elements, such as a common element pool. In general, a board cannot make the unilateral decision to permanently close or to eliminate an amenity like a swimming pool. While there may be circumstances under which the board could close the pool on a temporary basis, owner approval would be required to do so on a permanent basis.
• David M. Bendoff is an attorney with Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit in the Chicago suburbs. Send questions for the column to him at CondoTalk@ksnlaw.com. The firm provides legal service to condominium, townhouse, homeowner associations and housing cooperatives. This column is not a substitute for consultation with legal counsel.